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Salmon Fly Confusion

By 3rd February 2020

If salmon fly selection was so vital for catching fish then I doubt they'd be thousands of different fly patterns out in circulation. In saying that we all have developed firm favourites for certain times of the year and here's an insight into what I've personally done well with.

The 'Copperass' Salmon Fly

The 'Copperass' is an out & out deadly salmon pattern which was derived from the also deadly Ally Shrimp 'Cascade'. The difference between these 2 patterns is a copper UV varnished body, full Arctic fox tail and wing & 2 strands of long gold holographic tinsel tied into the wing. I've seen me give this pattern to a fellow anglers to use on countless numerous occasions who had salmon seize it more or less 'instantly' and on one occasion on the famous River Tay Lower Kinnaird beat a perfect 17 pounder rose to this fly after ignoring the fishing friend's perfectly tied Dee Monkey which had been fished down in front of it! 75% of my fishing time is spent swimming one of these whether it be tied on a 2 inch copper tube for early Spring or a tiny sparsely dressed size 13 for the lowest Summer or late Spring water conditions.

The Jock's Shrimp Salmon Fly

This beautiful orange and red salmon fly is a WMD especially through late Summer and the Autumn months on the Scottish salmon rivers and was created while I was working as a Head Ghillie on the Tay back in 2003. Even our grand master of Scottish salmon fishers Paul Young used to swear this fly was in a class of its own of which I obviously agreed with as its designer! While harling one of these from the boat on the Tay I never once experienced a gentle regular take on the fly rod but always a complete high impact fly reel drag screaming assault! Although favoured as a late Summer and Autumn fly it will work throughout the season if fished but I'm guilty of favouring the 'Copperass' for the first 2/3rds of the season as I've way too much faith in the 'Copperass' to change it over unless I want to really try to upset a specific fish via psychological shock tactics!

The Blue Charm & Silver Stoat Salmon Fly Patterns

These 2 killer patterns played the biggest part in establishing my unshakable addiction to salmon fly fishing during the 70's on the Tay and the once prolific West Coast River Fyne. The 'Blue Charm' was the only fly West Coast ghillies would carry in their fly boxes back in those days before aquaculture obliterated the West's wild salmon & sea trout stocks. I recall one morning of 9 salmon between 2 of us during the 1st week of September on falling spate water on this fly and every fish was caught on 9ft trout rods. On the Tay I vividly recall landing my first salmon for a guest in 1976 (in the backwater of the old croy that used to sit at the neck of the Newtyle Beat's Cottar Pool) which took the 'Silver Stoat' wearing my father's Milbro chest waders that came up to my chin and a rope tailer which shouldn't have stuck on that 6lbs grilse but thankfully it did! These 2 deadly salmon fly patterns are often forgotten these days but make no mistake about the fact that salmon haven't changed their views on these 2 even if tackle dealers and fly tiers have been distracted!

Don't Switch Salmon Flies Too Often

Make your salmon fly selection decision in the morning based on the prevailing water and light conditions and stick with it unless the water or light changes significantly. The time to change a salmon fly is for the afternoon session if you're back onto the same pools and you know you're covering fish that didn't respond to your first offering. From what I've seen more often than not it's not the fly that necessarily needs changed but the speed and depth of its flight path over the salmon lies. Once you've got total faith in any salmon fly pattern (as I have in the above 4) stick it out and your faith will highly likely soon enough be replenished! Changing flies too often only depletes faith levels and reduces salmon fly swim time. If there's a 'taker' about and you're covering it properly then nine times out of ten it will come for your fly. If you're new to this game or been in a while and lack success then trust my professional based career judgement on the above patterns and you'll soon develop the same faith level I have in them. For supply of any of the above salmon fly patterns (tied correctly) contact Danny McLaughlin on danny@justsalmonflies.co.uk or via telephone on; + 44 (0)7446 353058. Best to email him as he doesn't like answering his phone when he's on the river or on the vice!